What is underground coal gasification?

What is underground coal gasification?
UCG is a proven technological process that has been used for more than 50 years in places like Australia, South Africa, China and Russia. CIRI is tapping the expertise of world-class UCG technology experts to support the development of its UCG project.

*Coal + H2O + O2 + heat = H2 + CO + CO2 + methane gases
*Product is “syngas,” otherwise known as synthesis gas
*Process occurs deep underground without mining

What is syngas?
*Energy-rich and convertible to value-added products
*Handled and used like natural gas
*Piped, stored or used to fuel a turbine to generate electricity
*Upgraded or converted to make synthetic natural gas or liquid fuels

Clean energy production
UCG-produced syngas with carbon capture and sequestration is as clean as natural gas.
*”Carbon capture and sequestration” is a process by which carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is captured and then locked underground where it cannot harm the environment.
*Captured CO2 can be injected into mature oil fields to increase oil production, a process known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
*EOR is a proven, economically preferred method of carbon sequestration
*Syngas-related emissions of other pollutants (SOX, NOX, etc.) are comparable to natural gas

Mitigating hazards
*Careful site selection, project design and monitoring will reduce risk of ground settling (subsidence) and prevent groundwater contamination
*Process pressure managed to keep contaminates in the coal seam
*Operators control or stop the process by managing oxygen supply
*Natural water influx would quench the reaction, eliminating the possibility of unwanted coal-seam fires
*Technology provider with proven track record
*Independent technology consultation and review to CIRI by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Site characteristics
*More than 650 feet underground, isolated beneath strong and impermeable mineral layers
*Below – and isolated from – the freshwater aquifer

Preliminary timeline
2009: Begin resource assessment drilling
2010 – 2012: Project permitting process
2013: Begin aboveground project construction
2014: Open commercial operations

“The enormous potential of underground coal gasification to meet rising energy demand in a CO2-constrained world warrants a high priority by the United States government to speed commercialization.”
– Clean Air Task Force study entitled “Coal Without Carbon: An Investment Plan for Federal Action,” September 2009

Safe, proven and timely
Commercial-scale UCG projects have been successful all over the globe. Until recently, natural gas prices were low enough that UCG projects were not pursued for reasons of simple economics. But with natural gas prices on the rise and an impending shortage of natural gas in the Southcentral Alaska region, the time to develop this project has come.

*The UCG reaction is carefully controlled and can be stopped at any time
*More than 50 test and commercial projects have been completed worldwide
*UCG is a “here-now” technology that responsibly harnesses an abundant energy resource
*Requires minimal aboveground infrastructure or surface disturbance that CIRI is committed to reclaim at project completion
*No open pits, mountaintop removal or tailing piles*Waste products from the UCG process remain in place underground
*UCG eliminates human health and environmental hazards associated with traditional coal mining, handling, transport and waste

CIRI’s commitment
CIRI’s UCG project does not require public subsidies to get started and will be available in time to economically supply Southcentral Alaska’s near-term energy needs. UCG with carbon capture is just one of the innovative energy alternatives being developed by CIRI to help reduce the region’s reliance on diminishing oil and natural gas supplies and move toward cleaner domestic energy resources. CIRI will only begin building a UCG facility after a deliberate, thoughtful process, including:

*All necessary due diligence and securing all required permits
*Agreements with world-class technology partners
*Input from local and national stakeholders